Twice recently the Supreme Court has chastised the U.S. Department of Justice for extending unlawful rules beyond their logical application in an effort to secure a conviction. Beyond their effects for specific defendants, these choices delivered a welcome message to prosecutors they should never uproot a statute from the clear context in order to get their man (or girl).
Often, but, prosecutors are aided inside their overreach by laws and regulations which can be therefore vaguely written that it is not yet determined just what conduct will be targeted. On Monday, the Supreme Court heard a challenge to a single law that is such which permitted the us government to determine unlawful control of the weapon being a “violent felony” justifying an extended prison term.
The extremely ugly defendant in this situation, Samuel Johnson, is really a white supremacist from Minnesota who pleaded bad in 2012 to being a felon in control of the firearm. Beneath the Armed Career Criminal Act, he had been sentenced up to a prison that is 15-year because he previously three previous “violent felonies” on their record. Johnson conceded that two of his previous beliefs, for robbery and tried robbery, had been violent felonies. But he disputed the federal government’s choice to classify a 3rd conviction, for possessing a short-barreled shotgun, being a “violent felony.”
The idea that the simple control of a unlawful firearm is a violent act defies the dictionary and common understanding, and Johnson initially argued — plausibly — it was maybe maybe not. But Monday’s arguments centered on a wider problem: if the violent felony supply into the Armed profession Criminal Act had been unconstitutionally obscure. Continua a leggere